I haven’t disliked running because of the exercise itself, I disliked running because of how it made me feel physically and emotionally. When I ran, my breathing was labored and I would get a metallic taste in my mouth and a debilitating side cramp after only running 5 short minutes.
It always seemed as thought was never fast enough compared to everyone else. I could never run an 8 minute mile. I was always the last one to finish the laps around the track in PE class. Let’s not even discuss how I stacked up in the quick sprints like the sixty yard dash.
After all these years, my thought process toward running has never changed. One would think that something as small as putting one foot in front of the other, breathing and moving the arms back and forth would be simple. The reality is, the act of running is simple. It was my thoughts about running that made it a painful experience….every single time.
Normally when I run, I try to run as fast as I am able to run. As a result, I am unable to maintain a stride, consistency or a true sense of accomplishment. When we try to take our bodies to a level of performance we have not built up strength to maintain it shows up as walking, giving up, sitting down, losing confidence, validating negative thoughts we have created in our own mind and disappointment of not reaching a desired outcome.
In an effort to create a different result, I approached my run this afternoon with a different thought. The new thought was: pace yourself, don’t worry about how fast you are running, just run and avoid stopping as much as possible.– build endurance, build strength.
At the end of my run, I passed a lady with her dog who breathlessly uttered the words, “I wish I was just finishing up.” I smiled and acknowledged her words. In my mind, I was processing that I could appreciate and relate to her feeling of desperation to just reach the end.
Upon completion of the 3 mile loop I realized, I ran consistently, I barely stopped, and I didn’t feel the need to beat myself up when I did have to take a break. I was proud of the outcome of the new thought I implemented, the outcome it yielded and more importantly the learning experience.
In the process of running with this new thought, I reflected about my past experiences with running…on the road and in life by asking myself a few questions:
- Why are you trying to run at a faster pace than you have the strength to maintain?
- Is it so that the people around you acknowledge your ability to be a fast runner?
- Is it so that you don’t look weak by having to run at a slower pace?
- Is it to help yourself feel better by being able to say, I can run an 8 minute mile?
So, here are the lessons and learning from running:
- Identify, understand and appreciate the level your body and mind are capable of consistently performing.
- Running the hills at your pace requires you to dig in, find your strength, increase focus and concentration to make it to the top. If you are running beyond your pace, the hills will slow you down and may cause you to give up.
- Take time to look around. When we are too focused on just getting done, we lose track of the surrounding scenery that is all apart of the beauty in the journey.
- Accept where you are currently and know that at your own pace, you will build stamina, momentum, speed to yield performance over time.
- When you are in the space of accepting your current level of capacity, the thoughts, opinions and judgments of others don’t matter because you are being honest with who you are and where you are at this stage of your evolution.
- When you operate at your pace and need to take a small break, you may be more accepting of yourself, your performance and the need to slow down.
- Take advantage of the downhill slopes by letting go and riding the momentum.
- Running beyond your level will compromise the integrity of the action and create a compromised outcome.
- The benchmark goal in your mind will come much faster than you think when you are able to be present in the moment and match your pace with your capacity.
Accepting the level of your current strength doesn’t mean you give up or settle away from the challenge of developing beyond where you are currently.
Acceptance of your current level means you pace yourself to build strength and endurance in working to create the vision you know will soon come to pass.
To Growth and Purpose,